Perhaps the weakest of all Austen's works, including the fragments.
Perhaps the weakest of all Austen's works, including the fragments. The main problem, of course, is the heroine.
Has ever a boy got himself into such trouble as Dick Cheveley? Likely not. You might almost think his story is fiction… which it is.
Our hero manages to get himself locked up more than once, winning free only after the greatest and most unlikely exertions. Not content with that, he gets himself marooned a couple times.
Were it not for the fact that he\'ll eat nearly anything and rarely suffers from thirst, he might never have lived to tell the tale to give other boys this good advice: \"If you run away to sea make sure you have your pockets full of useful tools, and don\'t be too picky about your food.\"
Talk about luck!
I'm a sucker for tales of the sea and marooning, so managed to finish this remarkable tale with most of my sanity intact. Dick and his gal friend go through more adventures than Robinson Crusoe and Dick Hawkins (Treasure Island) combined. I'll try to keep this brief.
At sea every possible mishap occurs except hitting an iceberg or battling a sea serpent. As to the atmosphere, they confront no flying saucers, but every wind that blows strikes them at one time or another. Geologically ditto.
Using knowledge gained as a naval officer combined with an amazing willingness to work, Leslie manages wonders with almost no assistance from his girl beyond asking her to hold the end of a rope now and then. She's a gently-raised Victorian girl who must be protected from all dangers and physical demands, and is prone to fainting when danger is in the offing.
After six months or so of living on a desert isle they achieve the intimacy of using first names, and after a year I'm fairly sure they exchange a kiss… though maybe not. The facts of life never make it into this tale.
With all that, Collingwood is a decent enough writer who simply suffers from an out-of-control imagination.